At HSBC, we partner with our clients across industries and markets, with an extensive on-the ground network of senior bankers with an in-depth understanding of their sectors. The following is a client example of our partnership in the Natural Resources, Utilities and Chemicals sector. As a global business that is growing quickly, multinational gold producer OceanaGold needs a scalable, flexible, cash management and liquidity investment infrastructure. So, when a reshuffle in its banking group triggered the decision to select a new primary cash management bank, OceanaGold chose HSBC.
In mid 2012, OceanaGold refinanced its debt facilities and reviewed its banking relationships. At the time, the company had mining operations in New Zealand and was constructing a mine in the Philippines, managed from its headquarters in Melbourne, but further international expansion was already in prospect. The company therefore decided to put out a formal tender for a new global cash management provider.
The tender process started in September 2012 and concluded in February 2013 when OceanaGold announced that it was awarding its cash management mandate to HSBC. A number of factors played into this decision, one of which was banking platform consistency. "We were previously having to use two different cash management platforms from the same provider, which was challenging," says Matthew McConnell, OceanaGold's Group Treasurer. "The two systems weren't compatible and required separate login credentials and tokens, so the global consistency of HSBCnet was appealing. In addition, we had received positive feedback on HSBCnet from our Philippine operations where it was already in use."
A single global cash management partner would also streamline day to day treasury operations. This was particularly relevant in view of the company's ongoing expansion, as considerable efficiencies and cost savings could be achieved if future acquisitions did not result in the proliferation of banking relationships. A banking partner such as HSBC, with a global footprint that could support likely future OceanaGold acquisitions, would minimise the risk of this.
Finally, OceanaGold maintained various cash balances across its businesses, including one in Philippine peso (PHP). Therefore, a banking partner that could offer interest compensation that reflected the level of all balances globally - including PHP - would be adding value.
HSBC's Interest Enhancement Facility (IEF) met this criterion. IEF enables clients to obtain preferential credit interest rate terms on global balances. As mentioned above, this was particularly pertinent for OceanaGold in view of its operations in the Philippines and its PHP balances there. In addition, the company held USD from its gold sales, as well as NZD, AUD and CAD.
"The IEF was a neat solution for our needs," says Matthew McConnell. "Its notional nature is a better fit for us in terms of flexibility than a solution involving physical movement of cash and also incurs less management overhead from a treasury perspective. We also like the fact that it enables us to make the best use of any float we have, while simultaneously maximising yield."
The implementation, which involved incorporating OceanaGold bank accounts globally into an IEF structure, was successfully completed in early 2014. A key element in the implementation's success was that HSBC's implementation manager was based in the company's head office location of Melbourne.
This proved to be of considerable value as the implementation progressed. A common issue in sectors such as natural resources and utilities (NRU) is that the often globally dispersed nature of the business can make global banking implementations a major headache for corporate treasuries. A global treasury based in the head office location finds itself having to monitor and manage implementation activities in remote locations and time zones.
For the OceanaGold implementation, HSBC appointed its Melbourne implementation manager as the global communication manager for the project. This meant that the company had a single local point of contact for all information and activities relating to the implementation globally. The HSBC global communication manager liaised with colleagues in offices in New Zealand, USA, Canada and the Philippines to streamline the implementation process. "This arrangement definitely made life easier for us than having to deal with multiple HSBC contacts globally during the implementation," says Matthew McConnell.
David Andrada, Global Sector Head, Natural Resources & Utilities, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC
‘’Having a client coverage in key hubs to support our Natural Resources, Utilities and Chemical clients is vital to ensure we deliver the adequate support to our clients for their liquidity and cash management needs globally. This has been a clear success throughout our relationship with OceanaGold.’’
Since the implementation, the advantages of having a single global banking relationship with HSBC have been underlined by the bank's support for the company's M&A growth. For instance, when the company added to its presence in New Zealand by acquiring the Waihi Gold Mine on New Zealand's North Island, it opted to transfer its banking to HSBC to further leverage the benefits of its IEF structure and a single HSBCnet login for control/visibility. HSBC had the necessary new banking facilities up and running for Waihi within a month. The company made the same decision, when it made its first US acquisition, with the Haile gold mine in South Carolina. When new bank accounts and corporate cards were required, it turned to HSBC to transition the banking services. "This has validated the view we took during the RFP that a partner who could support our growth trajectory and new locations would add value in terms of future-proofing," says Matthew McConnell. The Haile gold mine is now up and running with HSBCnet, travel and expenses cards, ACH, wires, reporting, statement viewing and file upload. Day to day operation of the account is handled locally, but OceanaGold's central treasury in Melbourne also has visibility on, and access to, the account.
Another development in the evolution of the relationship between OceanaGold and HSBC has been the refinement of the company's IEF. At the time of the tender, the company's anticipated credit balances were relatively modest. However, largely due to a significant increase in production, its actual credit balances have been three to four times the level originally anticipated. In response, HSBC revised the interest rate tiers in the company's IEF by adding two tiers on top of the original three, as well as adding new accounts for the new acquisitions in the USA and New Zealand, so the company could fully benefit from its larger cash balances.
More generally, the IEF has proven a good fit with OceanaGold's day to day business operations. The company needs to maintain local currency balances in all the countries in which it operates in order to meet operational expenses. As a gold producer, the company's primary receivables currency is USD. Apart from the specific benefit the IEF provides in relation to OceanaGold's Philippine peso balances, the facility is also convenient as regards the company's focus on reducing bank debt. As soon as cash accrues in Australia it can be used to repay debt or fund acquisitions. In practical terms, the company treasurer regards the IEF as a more appropriate solution for the company's needs than the alternative of sweeping or pooling structures. Furthermore, keeping convenient track of balances is trivial via HSBCnet.
While HSBC has been providing OceanaGold with travel and expenses cards for some time, the company is also in the late stages of going live with the bank's MiVision online card management platform. This will give the company's administrators and card-holders considerable flexibility and convenience in the day to day operation of cards. In addition to reporting functionality, administrators can request single/multiple cards themselves or by automatically requesting holders to complete an application. They have granular control of limits in real time, as well as card/PIN replacement and numerous other controls. Cardholders also have extensive control, including requesting card/PIN replacements, updating billing/personal details and requesting cards be sent to third party addresses (such as a hotel, if a card is lost/stolen while travelling). MiVision can also be connected to ERP or other corporate systems for automated data transfer.
The relationship between OceanaGold and HSBC has also continued to evolve in terms of day to day operations. A recent example was where an issue arose with TT remittances from the US to OceanaGold's account in New Zealand always arriving a day late due to the international dateline. HSBC's local client service manager took the initiative and discussed the problem directly with the paying bank and agreed a solution whereby the remitter would schedule the payments a day earlier so they would arrive with the correct value date.
Matthew McConnell, Group Treasurer, OceanaGold
‘’This has validated the view we took during the RFP that a partner who could support our growth trajectory and new locations would add value in terms of future-proofing.’’
OceanaGold's partnership with HSBC exemplifies the company's desire to maximise its strategic agility when making acquisitions. New businesses can be readily rolled into existing infrastructure, such as HSBCnet and the company's IEF. This not only reduces the turnaround time on acquisitions, it also maintains straightforward visibility and control, as well as maximising return on corporate cash.
"Finally, there's also the consideration that we can have the best of both worlds when it comes to service," says Matthew McConnell. "In-country, local language support and expertise are available, but if an issue cannot be resolved there, it is straightforward to raise it to a global level for resolution."
Client profile: OceanaGold
OceanaGold Corporation is a mid-tier, multinational gold producer. Over the years, the company has built up extensive global operating and development experience in low-cost production. OceanaGold owns a portfolio of geographically-diverse, high-quality assets in the Philippines, New Zealand and the USA.
The company has a strong commitment to sustainability and has operated in accordance with this for more than a quarter of a century, in doing so building a strong reputation for responsible environmental management and community engagement. It works collaboratively with valued stakeholders to identify and invest in social programs that are designed to build capacity beyond a mine’s life cycle.
The company's most recent acquisitions have been the high-grade Waihi Gold Mine on New Zealand's North Island and - through the purchase of Romarco Minerals - the top-tier Haile Gold Mine in South Carolina, USA. In October 2017, the company announced the declaration of commercial production at Haile. OceanaGold has a significant pipeline of organic growth and exploration opportunities within the Asia-Pacific and Americas regions and has also made strategic investments in two junior exploration companies - Gold Standard Ventures and NuLegacy - both focused on projects in Nevada, USA.
Published: September 2018
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